Adam, the first human, was made from “the dust of the earth [some translations say “ground”]” (Genesis 2:7). Theistic Evolutionists usually view this in the same manner as Natural Evolutionists. To remind readers of the basis of that idea: The “dust,” they say, was merely the accumulation of ground elements of the planet that, through millions or billions of years, eventually developed into living elements, then into an ape species, and finally, into a human species. Adam was the first intelligent human, meaning that the moment this endless configuration of developing matter sprang to life in the mind of an intelligent being, this was that moment when Adam was created. In short, Theistic Evolutionists maintain that God, Himself, created the process of natural evolution and natural selection, then supernaturally guided it to fruition until it formed the first viable human mind, millions/billions of years beyond the time of the formation of plants and animals (including the primates, who preceded Adam).
Though, over the last decade of my studies, I’ve found this explanation to have some interesting and valid input, I find it hard to adopt in light of many biblical loopholes one must configure for this to hold. Just to name a few arguments:
- If Adam was an intelligent descendant of an ape species, then countless apelike humans must have lived prior to him. The Fall of mankind came through Adam and Eve, and before that original sin, death was not a reality (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22), so the ape race before Adam would have been immortal, at least partially intelligent, and morally perfect. Even for a person of extreme faith, billions of ape men with questionable intelligence and indefinite life spans who also lived constantly blameless lives is a stretch. (The argument that maintains that the forbidden fruit didn’t exist prior to Adam and, therefore, the temptation couldn’t have been introduced prior crumbles under the weight of additional factors, including the following.)
- Eve came from Adam’s rib, so prior to her creation, there would have been no reproduction processes. Even if we applied the same evolutionary rules to human females as male, believing that women, too, were slowly developing for billions of years from dust to ape-women to human and so on, we could not explain why suddenly this woman was pulled from Adam’s rib. Who would have been the ape women before her, and why didn’t God just use one of them to partner with Adam? Nothing about this makes sense unless humanity’s mother, Eve, truly was formed at this moment, negating the idea that a woman could have had a womb through which to produce the ape men inhabiting Earth that led to Adam and Eve.
- Genesis 2:18 acknowledges that it is not good for man to be alone. But if Adam was a descendant of anything or anyone else, he would not have been alone in the Garden of Eden, because, even if they had been less intelligent, he would have had “family” there with him. The biblical account is clear that there were no forms of life resembling humanity at the time Adam was created from dust.
- Adam was given dominion over all the animal kingdom (Genesis 1:26–28). Yet the nature and character of the rest of the biblical record shows that elders are placed in the managerial, governing chair over families and communities. The only exceptions were if elders or leaders were wicked. Again, if Adam had immortal family around him when he was formed, they would have had to have been morally perfect all the years of their lives, or else the Fall would have occurred through one of these ancestors before Adam’s time. This rules out the possibility of wickedness being the reason Adam’s forbearers were placed under their descendant’s dominion, whether or not Adam may have been one billionth of a percentage or so more evolved in his intelligence than they were. (Also, the dominion Adam was given over the animal kingdom gets blurry and hard to define or understand if he, himself, was an animal.)
- Genesis 1:26 records a moment when God said humans would be “made” in His image. It does not say humans would “eventually evolve” to some high standard that finally earns the status of His image. People were literally created through the Almighty’s power to represent Him as His viceroys on Earth. Why would God need to “make” people “in His image” if a few more minutes on God’s heavenly clock would have done it for Him through evolution, natural selection, or survival of the fittest?
And the list goes on and on. By now, I believe the case has been made that when the Bible describes the formation of Adam, there is no logical room for former ancestry, at least not for beings of the same make, manner, image, dominion, and intent behind God’s creation of them. (If there had been any humanlike beings prior to Adam and Eve—no matter how intelligent—they would have been gone by the time Adam and Eve were in the Garden. This relates to the Pre-Adamite theory, considering the possibility of a pre-Adamic race, which we will look at soon. But relevant here is the acknowledgment of the difference between pre-Adamites and co-Adamites: Intelligent or semi-intelligent beings inhabiting Earth before Adam [pre-Adamites] is a possibility [see chapter 5, “Mystery History”]; these beings cohabiting the planet at the same time and alongside Adam [co-Adamites] cannot be true if the Bible remains the supreme authority for the reasons stated in the aforementioned list.)
The Gap Theory
Amidst the interpretations many scholars have long acknowledged as responsible and admissible (frequently even those who disagree with it are willing to admit it’s a theologically responsible interpretation) is the well-known Gap theory. It’s familiar to many but for folks who are newer to this subject, I will briefly unpack the basics.
Gap theorists concur that there is a gap in time represented between the first two verses of Genesis. In the beginning—the very beginning—God created space, planets, and at least some forms of life (if not yet man), as Genesis 1:1 states. But after this, and before verse 2, sin entered the picture through satanic rebellion, rendering Earth “without form, and void.” Thus, the Creation week that follows is not the very first creative act of God, but a restorative act to bring back what He first made. This is why the Gap theory is also sometimes referred to as the Ruin-Reconstruction theory or the Restitution theory. The number of years between the first and second Creation acts (what I herein call the re-creation) is unknown, though most scholars simply allow for that time to be however long geological sciences demand. If science says Earth is billions of years old, but biblical chronology demands Adam was created circa 4004 BC, then both are correct: Earth is old, and the Ruin-Reconstruction or Restitution Creation week began at or around the time of Adam. (Note: Ussher Chronology may be correct with 4004 BC, but I still maintain that he was off because of his disallowance for any breaks in genealogy. As to what year Adam was really formed, we will never know exactly. Either way, the prior discussion of James Ussher was still necessary, as it addressed and broke down not just chronological error but the Young Earth movement—and the vast reach of its research—that stemmed from Ussher’s work.)
What Earth looked like during the Gap is technically unknown, but many clues in Scripture match what science says about the history of the planet as well as the theology within Genesis. Primarily, a two-flood theory is brought into the picture, considering the Flood of Noah as the second time God brought a deluge on the surface of Earth in judgment. The first flood, many Gap theorists surmise, was God’s response to the satanic rebellion during a time when Earth was bound in darkness (of both kinds—the physical absence of light and the spiritual presence of evil), accompanied by an Ice Age that brought death to all living things—plants, animals, and any beings of intelligence. Fossils from this period discovered by geologists in the modern age belong to this Gap in time. From this perspective, this is the “without form, and void” Earth described just prior to the Restorative Creation week.[i]
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Of course, as Genesis 1:2 describes Earth covered in water or “the deep,” more than chance is required for this to be true history. Some commentators show the link between this “deep” from Genesis and the “deep” of Job 38:30. If that is, in fact, the same body of water, then we see the condition of that early, global ocean just following God’s questioning of Job about the foundations of the earth. There are, of course, many who want to view these two bodies of water as separate (meaning that the “deep” of the book of Job is just a local lake in southwestern Asia, not Earth’s complete submersion as described in Genesis 1:2). However, that looks unlikely, based on the timing of the appearance of angels in the narrative. Consider the context of this verse in a slightly wider passage (brackets added for contextual reminders):
Where wast thou [Job] when I [God] laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. [This is probably when God created Earth in the very beginning, as “foundations” implies.] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? [Laying measures and stretching line refers to the dimensions and capacity of the planet at its initial formation. This language technically could apply to a restoration, but in the context of God’s questioning of Job’s whereabouts when Earth was made, it’s more appropriate to see that God had the youngest planet in mind.] Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof [a fastening or holding Earth together likewise appears to be a nod to the absolute first act of planetary formation]; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? [The terms “morning stars” and “sons of God” are well-known in Hebrew as a reference to the angels.[ii] The fact that they are here celebrating Creation is a time stamp that points back to a time even before the angels carried out the foremost sin.] Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? [Shutting the “doors” to the sea denotes God’s majestic ability to limit Earth’s waters so the planet will not fall prey to perpetual flooding. “When it brake forth” is considered by many to refer to a time Earth was flooded, and of course, most assume this to be Noah’s Flood. To Gap theorists, this entire speech is a reference to an epoch more ancient than Noah; it glances back to the “deep” of Genesis 1:2.] To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man…
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and t06o cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? [This means exactly what it sounds like: God directs the rain, including the rain of any flood. Pay close attention to what He says next:] Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. (Job 38:4–8, 27–30)
Interesting… Here, we have “ice,” “frost of heaven,” waters somehow hardened so they are “hid” like “stone,” and the “deep” in a state of being “frozen,” all in very close proximity to God’s first act of global creation. The order, again, is: 1) Earth was created while the angels shouted for joy; 2) the oceans somehow, and for some reason left herein unsaid, froze.
Geologists have long proposed a theory of an early Ice Age. Coined the “Snowball Earth theory,” it is said to have taken place in the Cryogenian (from Greek kryos [“cold”] and genesis [“birth”; “beginning”]) period, approximately 720–635 million years ago, though the theory allows for Earth’s Snowball Age to have been as long ago as 2.4 billion years. During this time, our planet was completely covered in ice, which accounts for the bizarre paleomagnetic shifts within the sedimentary rock layers at the equator that appear to be glacial in origin. (We’ll discuss this science in lay terms briefly in the following chapter.)
The same commentators who view this freeze-over of the “deep” in Job to be a local lake also openly admit that, unless Earth’s weather patterns were dramatically different in Job’s day (and the biblical account elsewhere does not solidify that), lakes of the Mediterranean do not freeze. Even a thin layer of ice at the edge of a lake in those regions is rare. A popular cross-reference to this event is in the former chapter, Job 37:10: “By the breath of God ice is given, And the broad waters are frozen” (nkjv). “Broad waters” is unlikely a reference to a tiny lake in Job’s backyard. Therefore, scholars who do view the “deep” of Job to have been a global phenomenon often admit that an early Ice Age could have occurred at or around the same time angels were “shouting for joy” at God laying the initial “foundations” of planet Earth.
At this point, the two-floods theory doesn’t seem absurd, and both geology and theology allow for God’s judgment to have rendered Earth a giant “snowball” just following this planet’s birth.
Is God, in this passage of Job, regaling His righteous servant about a day when His “breath” froze a global flood?
Well, considering that the Holy Spirit is biblically known to be the “breath” of God (compare: John 16:4–15; 20:19–23; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 2 Timothy 3:16), and He was also the One who “hovered” or “moved” upon the oceans of Earth in the beginning (Genesis 1:2), we’ve now thrown open the door to another possibility: Earth was flooded well before Noah’s day, then it was frozen and kept that way by God’s “breath” (Holy Spirit), and that glacial status was held together by the Spirit’s “hovering” or “moving” until God deemed it time to thaw and restore Earth to what He had originally intended. From this perspective, Genesis 1:2 doesn’t just bring into view the Spirit’s random fluttering about water, but its sustaining a direct judgment of God upon a planet that had been deemed a “kingdom” of someone or something who messed up, big time, in the far distant past.
Of course, a judgment of that massive scale against someone’s kingdom also naturally brings to mind a king and his subjects…
That Earth would have been inhabited by an intelligent race of some sort is highly controversial, for the reasons discussed in the previous section and many others. However, the Bible is clear that angels existed at the time the “foundations of the earth” were formed, and those beings of extreme intelligence “shouted for joy” at God’s handiwork (Job 38:4–7; cf., Psalm 148). Some of the angels also fell with Lucifer—whose “kingdom” was, in fact, Earth—well before Adam was conceived from dust by the hand of God (we will scour the “king” and “kingdom” verses in a later chapter). So, the idea that there was a race or species of wicked life on Earth before Adam was formed might make our skin crawl, but it is nonetheless a possibility we must address and, if we reject it, we should do so for solid theological reasons rather than to fiercely cling to Christian tradition. (Therein lies a very serious problem; the proposal that intelligence existed on Earth’s surface before the time of Adam and the rest of humanity is often vehemently opposed and written off as liberal interpretation or fringe theology. Yet any theory about the biblical matters, no matter how “crazy,” must remain a possibility unless, and until, it’s refuted through Scripture, not by human logic. In many cases, and from many angles, as this book will go on to address: Intelligent life on Earth prior to Adam—though not “human” in the sense of Adam and others created in the image of God—is supported by Scripture, which sharply brings into view Lucifer, his fallen fellows, and their activities from time immemorial. If a brother or sister in Christ diligently studies this topic and still maintains it is untrue or unlikely, I respect that interpretation. Those who offend me, on the other hand, are those who dismiss the possibility without honest, biblical study, simply because teachings have groomed them to cast it away without investigation. They are applying what we rebuked near the beginning of this book: “condemnation before investigation.” We must be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11–12 who look to the Word—not people—for absolute truth. In this case, as stated, Scripture makes it clear that intelligent life through God’s creation of the angels and other celestial beings did exist before Adam, and Lucifer’s domain is and was Earth. Although we don’t have to agree on all details, Gap-theory theology isn’t as far-fetched as some powerful voices insist.)
I will close out this look at the Gap theory basics by pointing out one more popular support beam upon which theorists stand in favor of an ancient intelligent race. In Genesis 1:28, Adam and Eve were instructed by God to “replenish” Earth. This word in Hebrew, mala, primarily means “to fill” (as in something that is empty). Linguistic experts in support of the Gap theory see this as instructing Adam and Eve to “refill” (as in something that had been emptied or wiped out prior, as the English “replenish” indicates). If this interpretation is correct (and either could be), it intimates that a race/species of intelligence was in fact alive on Earth before Adam—the race/species Adam is now being directed to replace. In support of this connection is Genesis 9:1, where we read that God also told Noah to “replenish” Earth after the Flood had wiped out its wicked inhabitants—which, as we will discuss in chapters 5 and 7, may have no longer been human. (My view does not require the reader to accept this “replenish” interpretation, as there are so many other contributing details to the big picture of Genesis that dissention over this particular word is unnecessary. Interpret it as you will; there are much bigger fish to fry.)
Now that we’ve addressed what the Bible says from an angle that leaves behind Ussher Chronology but upholds the authority of the original text, let’s look at one of the most heated debates between cosmological groups.
UP NEXT: EITHER ALL THESE SCIENTISTS ARE WRONG, OR GOD IS “TRICKY”
[i] Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 209.
[ii] Heiser, PhD, Michael S., Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; 2018; Kindle Edition), Kindle location 401–411.